Personal Injury

The Impact of Distracted Driving on Truck Accidents

Trucker looking at a cell phone while driving a tractor-trailer.

Is inattention a problem among commercial truck drivers?

Distracted driving is against the law for commercial truck drivers, and U.S. regulations often prohibit mobile phone use without hands-free devices, imposing penalties for distracted driving violations. However, driver distraction or inattention are increasingly cited as factors in commercial truck accidents.

Distracted driving is engaging in any activity that takes your attention away from the road. Common trucker distractions include:

  • Using mobile phones for calls, texting, or browsing.
  • Eating or drinking.
  • Adjusting controls for FM or CB radio, climate, or GPS.
  • Reading maps or GPS devices.
  • Experiencing drowsiness or fatigue.

This April, in coordination with National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the truck accident lawyers at Tracey Fox & Walters are sharing information about how inattentive driving impacts tractor-trailer, big rig, and semi-truck accidents.

Distracted driving’s impact on truck accidents

When a distracted driving truck accident occurs, the responsibility for injuries typically falls on the negligent party. This could be the truck driver, the trucking company if they failed to enforce safety policies or adequately train their drivers, or other third parties responsible for maintaining the truck or cargo. The crucial task of identifying the negligent party is not just about assigning blame, but about ensuring accountability and preventing future accidents, a matter of utmost importance.

Distracted driving among commercial truck drivers can significantly affect accidents, impacting crash severity, configuration, injuries, and liability. Here’s why:

  • A tractor-trailer's size and weight mean it has the potential to cause severe and fatal injuries in a crash. Distracted driving, which causes delayed reaction times, failure to notice hazards, and reduced situational awareness, is a serious concern. This means inattentive truckers are not just more likely to cause accidents, but these accidents can have devastating consequences.
  • A trucker’s inattention may also affect crash configuration. For example, a distracted truck driver may fail to brake in time, leading to rear-end collisions with other vehicles. Swerving or drifting into other lanes due to distraction can result in side-impact, head-on collisions, and rollover accidents involving cargo or hazardous materials spills.
  • Occupants of smaller vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists involved in collisions with commercial trucks are particularly vulnerable to serious injuries due to the size disparity. Common injuries sustained by victims include whiplash, fractures, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and internal organ damage.
  • Liability in commercial truck accidents can be complex and involve multiple at-fault parties. When distraction is a factor, truck drivers may be primarily liable for the crash. The trucking company may also be responsible for inadequate training or policies. Other factors, like defective equipment or road conditions, can also affect liability.

Addressing distracted driving among commercial truck drivers requires comprehensive strategies, including education, enforcement, technological solutions (such as driver-assistance systems), and fostering a safety culture within the trucking industry. Addressing these issues reduces the risks associated with distracted driving, resulting in safer roads for all users.

Proving fault in a distracted driving truck accident

In distracted driving truck accident cases, various types of evidence play a crucial role in establishing liability and proving negligence. Here are some common forms of evidence used in these cases:

  • Electronic Device Records: Records from the truck's electronic logging device (ELD) or the driver's cell phone can provide valuable insights into whether the driver was using their phone at the time of the accident.
  • Video Footage: Surveillance footage from nearby cameras, including traffic cameras, dashboard cameras (dashcams), or security cameras from nearby businesses, can capture the moments leading up to the crash and help determine if the driver was distracted.
  • Witness Testimony: Eyewitnesses who saw the accident can provide valuable testimony regarding the truck driver's actions leading up to the crash.
  • Accident Reconstruction: Accident reconstruction experts analyze various factors, including skid marks, vehicle damage, and road conditions, to recreate the events leading up to the accident and determine if distracted driving played a role.
  • Cell Phone Records: Cell phone records can reveal whether the driver was texting, calling, or using their phone at the time of the accident.
  • Black Box Data: Many commercial trucks are equipped with event data recorders (EDRs) or black boxes that record important data, such as vehicle speed, braking, and engine throttle position, which can be used to reconstruct the accident. A trucker failing to brake leading up to an accident could indicate they were distracted (e.g., looking at a cell phone).
  • Police Reports: Official police reports document the details of the accident, including any citations issued to the driver and observations made by law enforcement officers at the scene.

Why do I need to hire a truck accident attorney?

While it may seem clear that a distracted truck driver is to blame in a crash, uncovering the truth and demonstrating it to an insurance company can be challenging. Truck accident cases are often complex, with multiple parties held liable and various insurance companies involved.

These are high-stakes proceedings that impact not only the victim but also the trucking and insurance companies. A successful outcome for the victim could result in significant consequences for the trucker's career or even the trucking company's future. Hiring an experienced truck accident attorney can help you navigate these challenges and help you fight for the compensation you deserve.

Send negligent truckers a strong message with help from a lawyer

Truckers are paid professional drivers who have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and responsibly at all times. This duty includes adhering to traffic laws, obeying regulations governing commercial trucking, and maintaining proper focus and attention while behind the wheel. When truckers fail to uphold these responsibilities and engage in distracted driving behaviors, they put themselves and others at risk of serious harm. If you've been injured in a truck accident caused by a distracted truck driver, it's important to seek legal guidance to protect your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve.

Our attorneys at Tracey Fox & Walters can help you find your way forward after a serious truck wreck. If you were injured or a loved one died in a truck accident in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, or a nearby Texas community, contact us for a free case evaluation. We can listen to what happened, answer your questions, and explain your potential legal options.

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